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RIM Firing (Nearly) Everybody

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the end-of-the-line dept.

Businesses 440

itwbennett writes "Research in Motion (RIM) reported grim Q4 results Thursday and announced sweeping personnel changes. Leading the parade of departing execs is Jim Balsillie, former co-CEO of the company, who has given up his board seat. David Yach, who has been CTO of software for the company for 13 years, is retiring. And Jim Rowan, chief operating officer of global operations, who has been with the company for four years, is leaving to pursue other interests."

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440 comments

like palm (5, Interesting)

scafuz (985517) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521097)

either you innovate or you are out of business really soon

Re:like palm (5, Insightful)

NoobixCube (1133473) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521235)

Too true. This is a prime example of what happens when you fail to innovate in the face of a changing competitive landscape. Blackberry used to be the last word in mobile email, and while they remained very good at email, every other manufacturer caught up, and did far far more, while Blackberries, model after subtly different model, didn't expand their feature set at all. They introduced startling revelations of technology like replacing the trackball (which I didn't mind) with a laptop-style trackpad, which I couldn't stand, and they upped the resolution of their OS a bit. Everyone else offered bajillion megapixel cameras with a solid metric fucktonne of apps, and a proper, i.e. NOT WAP web browsing experience. But hey, Blackberry owners could still get their email, right? By about January last year, I'd say the only people buying Blackberries were people who already had Blackberries and had never tried anything else.

Re:like palm (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39521319)

Ok, it was primarily a business phone, but it didnt support good software APIs for gaming. Consequence? People would have to buy a second phone just for entertainment. They had a quite complete Java Stack, but wouldnt bother to implement not even JSR184 or OpenGL ES. And they had friggin' GPU phones!

Re:like palm (4, Interesting)

sunderland56 (621843) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521747)

People would have to buy a second phone just for entertainment.

The Blackberry was a business tool, just like a photocopier. Nobody complains about having to buy a game console because their photocopier can't play games.

The Blackberry was an effective business tool because it only had business-related functionality - so any company buying them didn't feel they were providing free toys for their employees, they were only providing a necessary tool. Unfortunately now everyone wants the latest/shiniest/coolest gadget, not just a business phone.

Re:like palm (5, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521447)

Arguably, RIM's real problem(aside from glacial movement) was that their core specialty, mobile email, was something that could be done 'well enough' by the less elegant means of simply shoving technologies and protocols designed for full computers into smaller devices.(very strong similarity to Palm, here)

Back in the day, when pagers were still pretty hip and running from AAA batteries wasn't yet somewhat deviant for a mobile device, RIM's ability to shove email onto handsets was pretty serious business. Trouble is, as team silicon advanced, the "Um, just run an IMAP or Activesync client, like a real computer, y'know?" solution became viable. Harder on the battery and the data plan; but trivially interoperable with everything already set up for real computers to get email.

Windows Mobile should have been RIM's wake-up call: UX was pretty dismal; but it was a more or less architecturally successful implementation of 'well, just build the computer smaller!' school of mobile design. Once Apple came along and dealt with the UX problem... Game over man, game over.

Palm went down a somewhat similar road: under the assumption that mobile devices would be highly power constrained and very infrequently connected, their 'conduit/sync' system was crazy elegant, and they managed to shove some pretty impressive capability into gizmos with weedy little ColdFire CPUs and absurdly small slices of RAM. Again, though, team silicon marched on, and it became possible to just shove a computer into a smaller box. Microsoft's attempt was a usability disaster, which gave Palm some extra time to live; but their attempts to scale classic PalmOS up to take advantage of more powerful hardware and more frequent connectivity never really came to much.

Re:like palm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39521675)

Palm went down a somewhat similar road: under the assumption that mobile devices would be highly power constrained and very infrequently connected, their 'conduit/sync' system was crazy elegant, and they managed to shove some pretty impressive capability into gizmos with weedy little ColdFire CPUs and absurdly small slices of RAM. Again, though, team silicon marched on, and it became possible to just shove a computer into a smaller box.

Really? Have you seen the abysmal power life on iphone when you enable the "push" email function? It's terrible, because what Apple calls "push" email isn't actually push email - it's a long-lived continuous pull which keeps a tcp connection active all the time.

There is only one product with genuine push email - blackberry.

Re:like palm (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39521455)

By about January last year, I'd say the only people buying Blackberries were people who already had Blackberries and had never tried anything else.

And people that still value privacy/security.
Though, I am heartened by the FBI's recent admission of defeat [slashdot.org] by an Android phone.

Re:like palm (5, Interesting)

datavirtue (1104259) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521495)

Several years ago I looked into becoming a Blackberry developer. I noticed their site was terribly unprofessional and it reminded me of a mom-and-pop shop at times. Just from visiting their site and wading through the developers section I decided to forgo wasting my time on their platform since it was obvious their management had serious problems. I think the principles made out like bandits many years ago and really just stopped caring all that much. They milked it for what they could, and now you see the end. RIM has been dead for years.

You know it's too late when... (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521303)

I figure by now, if you're still working for RIM, you're boned.

The time to leave was 3 years ago, and not when the big boys are lined up at the hatches with golden parachutes strapped to their backs.

(All I can say is, I'm damned glad I turned down an offer from RIM two years back as an email admin... a part of me always regretted that a little. Not anymore. Now if only I can get my employer to dump this crappy little BB Curve and get me a real phone...)

Re:like palm (4, Insightful)

dcherryholmes (1322535) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521361)

Palm innovated its ass off with webOS. It failed anyway, but not because of that.

Re:like palm (1)

tautog (46259) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521451)

Palm innovated its ass off with webOS. It failed anyway, but not because of that.

It's only innovation if you beat your competition to the punch. WebOS about three years too late.

Re:like palm (3, Interesting)

glop (181086) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521537)

Well, that was after a long stagnation. And the disruption was so major that there was little connection between the old business and the new. A customer with a Treo or Palm V probably had the same shock switching to an iPhone or a Palm Pre.

Also, webOS came after the iPhone. That makes it less innovative, since most of the differences between an old Pam were pioneered by the iPhone:
- get rid of pen, use fingers
- capacitive multi touch makes keyboard less needed, so get rid of it.
- get modern OS and not 16/32 bit kludgy memory address space
- get real browser
- PDA swallows the phone and not the reverse

Personally, for me the Treo was the time when Palm failed to innovate. Notably, they rejected the low end. I remember seeing 100$ phones, 100$ Palms. But there was no 150$ Palm-phone, only a very expensive Treo.

So, in the end, I'd say Palm is really a company that failed to innovate in time. And note this is really a case of innovating and not inventing. If you look at my bullet list, nothing was really groundbreaking in 2000. So it's not that they were unlucky and the guys in the labs didn't have the "Eureka moment". It's that they didn't look at what was possible and put it together quickly enough.

That's really quite sad, Palm was a company that had understood some really important things about simplicity and focus on the core features.

Re:like palm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39521547)

Way too little, way too late. iOS and Android dropped in what, 2007?

Two years later we get WebOS on otherwise uninteresting products. Who was going to buy a palm pre with an unknown os when there were iPhones and Android devices entrenched in the smartphone market?

But yeah, hindsight is 20/20.

Re:like apple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39521381)

either you patent somone elses innovations or you are out of business really soon

Re:like palm (5, Insightful)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521457)

either you innovate or you are out of business really soon

Or you innovate really well and run headlong into a ridiculous patent infringement lawsuit that soaks you for 2-3 years worth of your R&D budget, and then you have no choice but to stop innovating... The NTP shake-down of RIM pretty much directly marked the beginning of the end for them. It's a cautionary tale, really.

Re:like palm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39521655)

I agree, RIM is shrinking. Hey Microsoft, Google, Facebook, etc. -- start soaking up that talent! Open up shop in Waterloo!

RIM won't die instantly, it will be a controlled shrink over the next decade. It will go from employing over 10,000 people down to only a few thousand. The people that will leave, will be layed off or will leave due to attrition. Some of the best minds in the area are being employed by this giant and will be ripe for the taking. The mass exodus can be a boom for local companies or foreign companies that set up shop.

Google is in Waterloo. So is Intel and Facebook.

Re:like palm (5, Funny)

tgd (2822) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521811)

either you innovate or you are out of business really soon

Yeah, the only thing worse than a Rim job is a Palm job these days.

Titanic is sinking (4, Insightful)

na1led (1030470) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521131)

and the first ones to bail are the Captain and ship mates.

Re:Titanic is sinking (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39521183)

Umm.. everyone else is free to leave when they like, it's not slave labour. And if they'd started by letting go thousands of employees while leaving the the execs in their top-paying jobs there'd be uproar, so what exactly is your point? Or were you just being facetious so you could misuse a tired cliche?

Re:Titanic is sinking (1)

na1led (1030470) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521291)

An honest CEO would take a cut in his pay, or even no pay to keep his company alive if he believed in it. I can tell you never was a small business owner.

Re:Titanic is sinking (2)

DrgnDancer (137700) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521509)

I wouldn't be very surprised to find out this wasn't voluntary. Being asked politely to resign so you don't have to be fired is pretty common in these types of jobs. Let's you save face and minimizes bad press for the company. The number and timing of these "resignations" makes me think they're polite firings by the board. CEOs still answer to someone, even they can be asked to leave.

Re:Titanic is sinking (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521349)

There is a point lurking in there.

Most of RIM's employees are likely (until today) unaware that things were that bad, or dimly aware at best. They don't read the tech news, much less keep up with the industry. Hell, I bet RIM is *still* hiring right now.

It's not that they're forced to stay, it's that they don't know any better, and won't until a month or two from now. That'll be when the PR-spun "re-org" didn't fix anything, and the layoffs really begin.

Re:Titanic is sinking (4, Insightful)

Dog-Cow (21281) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521539)

They are working for a Tech company. If they don't keep up with the news, they are idiots who deserve to wake-up to a bankrupt company.

Re:Titanic is sinking (5, Funny)

lxs (131946) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521187)

I didn't know Francesco Schettino was in charge at RIM.

Re:Titanic is sinking (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521671)

If they did the opposite by slashing engineers with no reductions to upper management you could spin that at least as badly.

Pass out the golden parachutes (1)

assemblerex (1275164) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521139)

This plane is going into a nose dive!
Now the question is who will buy the brand, patents and customers.

Re:Pass out the golden parachutes (2, Insightful)

JasterBobaMereel (1102861) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521467)

Brand : Worthless
Customers : Leaving in droves, and no reason to stay now
Patents : the only asset they have left to strip ...

Misleading title (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39521141)

The title of this story is misleading.
There is nothing about firing in the source article.

Re:Misleading title (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39521185)

Also it is just the executive level is leaving. The headline seems to imply the whole company is shutting down, which is not the case.

Re:Misleading title (1)

alen (225700) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521211)

just wait a few more years

i sit near our sales people and a little while ago one of them made a joke about how a prospective customer is one of the 5 people in NYC who still uses a blackberry

Re:Misleading title (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39521227)

Yeah, here in India, we see Vodafone commercials encouraging non-professionals to use BlackBerries, and telling us that non-professionals do it better. Essentially, you have a bunch of metrosexual men singing their praises. The company has to be really shitting itself if it feels the need to dump on its core customers.

Re:Misleading title (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39521397)

When you work in big business, you know that if they people running your company are bailing out, you have MAYBE 2-3 years left before your looking for a new job. This is especially true when its such a large number of people.

Re:Misleading title (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39521411)

When execs are bailing, you know that's a sinking ship.

Re:Misleading title (4, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521433)

Well, if you're in the board room your attitude is that the workers don't matter any more than the machinery. To the 1%, only the 1% matter.

Re:Misleading title (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39521805)

The 1% matter very much, just now who that 1% is. A few years ago my employer hired a new office manager. In his introduction to us he started off with, "You should all be thankful you currently have a job". His concept of treating every single person like a universal cog that was easily replaceable and readily available did not work out so well. In some environments where people operate independently like an assembly line and jobs that have simple repetative tasks his plan may have worked. He left our company "on his own" about two years later.

Re:Misleading title (5, Funny)

XiaoMing (1574363) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521223)

From the few lines at the end of TFA, something like "Rats abandoning ship after having chewing through own hull" sounds more appropriate.

Re:Misleading title (1)

Carewolf (581105) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521269)

They are actually getting rid of the real dead-weight, is that possible?

Re:Misleading title (1)

dc29A (636871) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521321)

The title of this story is misleading.
There is nothing about firing in the source article.

"Retiring" or "Leaving to pursue other interests" in corporate world usually means pushed out or fired.

In other news (0)

GeneralTurgidson (2464452) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521151)

An enormous number of Blackberry zero-day exploits have been seen in the wild, with a metasploit framework scheduled to be released next week. CIOs shit bricks.

They better hope BB10 is the greatest OS ever. (1)

StoutFiles (2471680) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521155)

The entire company is riding on it. They're just treading water till it comes out.

Re:They better hope BB10 is the greatest OS ever. (1)

dc29A (636871) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521327)

An OS version alone won't save them. They need applications and really good hardware to go with it.

Re:They better hope BB10 is the greatest OS ever. (3, Insightful)

realityimpaired (1668397) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521391)

One of the features on paper is the ability to run Android apps natively....

Unless they've scrapped that feature, in which case they're boned.

Re:They better hope BB10 is the greatest OS ever. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39521577)

The PlayBook shows that they've got good hardware. It also shows that they're willing to throw out theiir home-built OS and start from the ground up with a third-party OS (QNX).

Re:They better hope BB10 is the greatest OS ever. (1)

neokushan (932374) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521337)

If it competently sends and receives email, it'll be an improvement over BB9.

Incidentally (5, Interesting)

Xacid (560407) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521157)

I got issued a Blackberry Bold for work yesterday and so far I've been incredibly impressed and actually like it more than my Android phone. It's something I never thought I'd get into but the physical format and the UI made pretty good sense to me (unlike android which feels disorganized/non-intuitive in a few places).

Where I think RIM has really failed is in regards to creating a culture around their devices outside of the workplace. Android has geeks and counterculture, Apple has the hipsters...and well everyone else. When I think of people with Blackberries I think of corporate culture and suit and ties - what young consumer wants to be a part of that?

Anywho - for my own selfish reasons I hope they continue (at least from my first impression) making quality devices and figure out how to market themselves outside of the enterprise.

Re:Incidentally (1)

lxs (131946) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521205)

Don't forget teen girls who send 765 messages per day.

Re:Incidentally (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39521215)

Thank you. It's good to see someone else who actually likes their Blackberry. I've had one for years, and am getting tired hearing from everyone else how much better the Androids are and iterating reasons despite the fact that they've never owned one. I've tried Androids on multiple occasions. I returned them. They're fun for a few days, but when it comes to being productive, I prefer my Blackberry.

Re:Incidentally (4, Interesting)

RubberMallet (2499906) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521355)

I've got both a Blackberry Curve 9360 (my work phone) and an HTC Android... and I detest using my Blackberry. The UI is terrible... really terrible. The call quality (on the exact same provider as my Android) is atrocious to say the least - which is a much bigger issue than an annoying UI. Trying to read an email, type an email, send an email is an exercise in annoyance and frustration, swiping that stupid track spot and invariably having to back-track all the time.. Trying to dial a phone number... or worse, remember which button it is to hang up the call instead of leaving the call open which I always seem to do first.... every single call.

Basically my Blackberry sits on my desk in standby because I have to have it there... but if I want to do anything "real" I use my Android which works very very very well.

I'm not the only one that feels this way either. Amongst the staff where I work, exactly zero like the Blackberry phones (we all have slightly different models of either Bold or Curve and 2 people have the Touch).

Re:Incidentally (1)

bemymonkey (1244086) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521469)

What exactly, in the realm of productivity, is easier on a Blackberry? I'd be interested in hearing some examples :)

Re:Incidentally (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39521471)

I owned a Blackberry for years. We are a year away from shutting down our blackberry server and starting up MDM for our iPhones and Androids. Within a year over 40% of our Blackberry users because iPhone users. Simply put, JUST doing email isn't enough anymore. Our sales team can on one device do what it used to take having a phone AND a laptop for. Hell they can even present powerpoints from their phones thee days.

Re:Incidentally (4, Insightful)

NoobixCube (1133473) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521265)

Different strokes for different folks, I guess. With a Blackberry, I often find myself scratching my head, but with an Android phone, even in the early versions, disarrayed and beta-ish as they were, and the current versions, laden as they are with manufacturer crapware like TouchWiz, I've never been left wondering "now where do I find that feature?"

Re:Incidentally (2)

imagined.by (2589739) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521331)

Just a hint: If you thought BlackBerry was stupid before you actually tried it, maybe you shouldn't call Apple users hipsters before doing the same. Just sayin'. Most geeks I know use Apple, because they can afford it. Most hipsters I've seen at university use Android, because its cheaper and "different".

Re:Incidentally (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39521333)

When I think of people with Blackberries I think of corporate culture and suit and ties - what young consumer wants to be a part of that?

I look around me in London and see a lot of kids using BBs. The send a LOT of messages. Last year when there were riots all over the UK, they said on TV that blackberry messenger was heavily used. that's free advertising for the young and hip right there :)

Re:Incidentally - well actually ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39521379)

They have announced their culture - business. That's where they're going to concentrate. It's a good place to be if they can solidify and expand their niche.

IBM is a good example of a company that remade itself. It was heading down the tubes and changed its focus to the business market. It works well and, for RIM, it's a much better idea than trying to compete in the consumer smart phone market.

Re:Incidentally (1)

JasterBobaMereel (1102861) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521503)

Come to the UK, BBM was touted as the organising system of the riots we had last year ... the teen market bought them because of this ...

But they are abandoning the consumer market ....

Re:Incidentally (1)

datavirtue (1104259) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521571)

No, Android has regular, everyday people. Apple has the people who don't flash a second thought at dropping $1000 on something trivial, or those poor saps who can't afford it but desperately want to belong. Blackberry is and has been a pariah.

corporate culture and suit and ties - what young consumer wants to be a part of that?

A lot of them.

Re:Incidentally (2)

usuallylost (2468686) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521751)

We still use Blackberry devices almost exclusively at work. We have done pilot projects on both Android phones and the iPhone and neither one has all of the features we need in order to integrate the phones into our corporate environment. As long as that remains the case I think they are going to have a lock on a certain portion of the corporate and government markets. The real question is whether that is a large enough and profitable enough market to keep them in business. If any of the other smart phone makers starts offering phones with all the features that companies need RIM is in big trouble. As far as creating a culture, outside the corporation, for themselves that is going to be an uphill battle. At this point if you see somebody with a blackberry the first thing you think is "company phone".

Re:Incidentally (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39521775)

I have a work issued blackberry as well. I will say if my device is primarily a work device with minimal personal use I'd pick blackberry any day. If I want a device that's primarily for personal use with some random business use then I'd pick Android or iPhone any day of the week. Blackberry is just the superior device for serious work.

Re:Incidentally (1)

jzarling (600712) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521815)

They tried to market to a younger culture by touting their BBM service a couple years ago - however Twitter took off and well...

Re:Incidentally (0)

nine-times (778537) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521861)

I got issued a Blackberry Bold for work yesterday and so far I've been incredibly impressed

Just wait...

Engineering quality. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39521159)

RIM's failure is attributable, in no small part, to flat-out engineering laziness. For example, I recall their networking APIs made developers responsible for figuring out which transport mechanism (e.g., cellular, wi-fi) was available when they wanted a HTTP connection. That's nonsense. The developer just wants a connection. Irritants like these were systemic, and these make developing quality software nearly impossible. Granted, users don't see that part, but they do experience it indirectly as programmers are forced to reinvent solutions to simple tasks that ought to be high level abstractions.

Re:Engineering quality. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39521419)

RIM's failure is attributable, in no small part, to flat-out engineering laziness. For example, I recall their networking APIs made developers responsible for figuring out which transport mechanism (e.g., cellular, wi-fi) was available when they wanted a HTTP connection. That's nonsense. The developer just wants a connection. Irritants like these were systemic, and these make developing quality software nearly impossible. Granted, users don't see that part, but they do experience it indirectly as programmers are forced to reinvent solutions to simple tasks that ought to be high level abstractions.

Couldn't agree more. Constantly frustrated by the level of re-engineering of concepts we take as granted in the Android and iPhone development arenas.

Re:Engineering quality. (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521531)

RIM's failure is attributable, in no small part, to flat-out engineering laziness.

You try taking a $612M hit directly to your bottom line and see how much free time you have left to be "industrious". RIMs mistake was in rolling over to NTP and expecting that they wouldn't be the only one that NTP brutally dominated in court (despite the technology on other platforms being pretty much identical). NTP had $615 million in the bank, why would they bother with any more time in court instead of just settle for some low-ball licensing deals? After that, competitors had such a huge advantage on RIM even just from a R&D spending standpoint that the death of RIM was inevitable.

Sinking ship (2)

prisoner-of-enigma (535770) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521175)

I've heard of rats deserting a sinking ship but this is the first time I've heard of them being *cast overboard* as well!

I had a co-worker who left a great position at a good company to go work for RIM about a year ago. Everybody told him he was nuts. I get the feeling he's regretting that decision right about now.

Boggles mind to think about how they squandered (5, Interesting)

Sgs-Cruz (526085) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521177)

Having only recently gotten into the smartphone game (July 2011), I didn't really know anything about the industry back when RIM/Blackberry was king.

But now, having read some about it... wow, what a waste. They basically had huge, fat, margins, essentially no competition in the smartphone arena, for almost five years - and freaking sat on it and did almost nothing. Meanwhile Apple and Google were in the lab inventing the future. Unbelievable.

Like most Canadians the story concerns me because what does it say about the country? I sometimes wonder - even if RIM had had a clue and tried to come up with something iPhone- or Android-like, could they have done it without the California engineer and developer community? They had the money, but could they have enticed the brilliant graduates of top American schools to move to Ontario? And I don't mean to say that Canadian engineers aren't good, but that Apple and Google have access to a global talent pool - did/does RIM? (Fascinating question: How much does snow and ice have to do with the fortunes of a mobile phone developer?)

It's a sad but interesting story all around. I hope they can turn things around but I don't see much chance of it at this point.

Re:Boggles mind to think about how they squandered (2)

alen (225700) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521237)

RIM was only ever good for the enterprise market to give employees email on the go. first it was the execs and then the worker bees so they couldn't give the excuse that they couldn't work on the weekend because they didn't see the email.

the original iphone was overpriced but it looked cool. original androids were crappola. RIM had years to release a new product but they stuck to their BES/BIS investment. can't blame them. after spending billions of $$$ on a cloud computing solution before cloud was everywhere how do you go to the board of directors and tell them to dump it all and start from scratch?

Re:Boggles mind to think about how they squandered (1)

Amouth (879122) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521385)

i wouldn't count RIM's system as a "cloud computing solution" from everything i've ever read on the many many many outages they have had, their systems do not scale well at all.

Re:Boggles mind to think about how they squandered (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521589)

i wouldn't count RIM's system as a "cloud computing solution" from everything i've ever read on the many many many outages they have had, their systems do not scale well at all.

i wouldn't count RIM's system as a "cloud computing solution" from everything i've ever read on the many many many outages they have had, their systems do not scale well at all.

Who said they weren't full of thunderstorms? Yes RIM was in the cloud before it was cool, the outages were a regular and inevitable byproduct of a system that was only mildly redundant (basically just like all cloud solutions now) and since they will probably be gone to dust before the new cloud wave hits full speed, expect the same lessons to be re-learned all over again.

Re:Boggles mind to think about how they squandered (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39521541)

BES/BIS wasn't/isn't the problem. It's not what you call trivial to pick up and use but, especially with BESX, it doesn't take a genius to figure out basic deployment options. In fact, that is still one area where RIM still has an edge, albeit a decidedly shrinking one as the Android ecosystem as well as the iOS ecosystem have started playing catchup in the deployment and management arena.

No, the problems lay in hardware and software limitations. RIM didn't keep up with the user experiences in either of those areas. Yes, for corporate email, RIM was king. But when you have one main feature with which you rule the roost, and others are able to make their version "good enough", you need to expand or you will eventually die as they pile on other capabilities.

On the hardware side, simple things like camera resolution, rear and front facing dual cameras, built in WiFi AP functionality (to provide 802.11 to other devices for example), various ports to link to other devices... all of these are things which allow you to use your phone for things beyond business email and which the vast majority of BB devices fail to offer. These features have now become de rigeur and you are hardpressed to find smartphones without at least some of them.

The worst problem lies on the software side of things though. Granted, no one has duplicated the phenomenon of the iTunes store for apps, and it's not like RIM was likely to try to swing their own music deals, but the ease which users have to purchase third party apps for their iPhones and Androids far surpasses that of the BB experience. As for music, perhaps they could have licensed from Microsoft (though they are a competitor), or perhaps something like Rhapsody. It would have made the BlackBerry feel a little less fungible, a little more indispensable. Furthermore, the toolchain at least has the appearance of being much more accessible in both cases than for developing for the BB environment. And of course, as has been pointed out elsewhere, simple things like providing a full featured web browser could have gone a long way toward giving users a better experience when they use their BlackBerry for something other than email.

All in all, RIM didn't so much ignore their strengths as they ignored their weaknesses. Whether that was due to arrogance or cluelessness is something we may never know.

Re:Boggles mind to think about how they squandered (1)

DrgnDancer (137700) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521377)

Fascinating question: How much does snow and ice have to do with the fortunes of a mobile phone developer?

Well I don't know about mobile per se, but Boston is one of the larger innovation hubs outside California in the US (These days more biotech than straight IT stuff, but there's some of that too), and the climate isn't that different from Ontario. Vancouver also is in the same climate zone as Redmond more or less. I can't help but think that the rather beautiful SF Bay area climate doesn't hurt them though.

Re:Boggles mind to think about how they squandered (4, Insightful)

na1led (1030470) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521399)

RIM's failure is due to their focus on getting support contracts with businesses. They're biggest selling product was BES which was plagued with bugs and issues. Our company used to have a BES server, and almost every week we had issues with it. RIM's support was also a joke, and sometimes they couldn't even fix a problem that was related to their product. Put it simple, the rest of world moved on to new upgrades, and RIM stayed stagnant.

Re:Boggles mind to think about how they squandered (1)

webscathe (448715) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521501)

They're biggest selling product was BES which was plagued with bugs and issues.

In my years in IT I've been least impressed with the usability of the BES. When it's installed properly and configured correctly it generally just works, and I really appreciate its integration with corporate mail systems, but actually getting in and using the product could not be less intuitive. It's just an ugly and horribly designed piece of software, and their new version 5, which went mostly web based is even worse than their older non-web based app.

FTA, "We plan to refocus on the enterprise business and capitalize on our leading position in this segment." If that truly is the case, they need to seriously attend to BES and its usability because that's really the biggest thing that differentiates BlackBerry from other smart phone experiences in the enterprise.

Re:Boggles mind to think about how they squandered (5, Informative)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521565)

Having only recently gotten into the smartphone game (July 2011), I didn't really know anything about the industry back when RIM/Blackberry was king.

But now, having read some about it... wow, what a waste. They basically had huge, fat, margins, essentially no competition in the smartphone arena, for almost five years - and freaking sat on it and did almost nothing. Meanwhile Apple and Google were in the lab inventing the future. Unbelievable.

Like most Canadians the story concerns me because what does it say about the country?

Go back and read about the NTP settlement. RIM was brutalized in a way that's hard to compare. And those fat margins? Every penny went to paying the patent troll under the bridge so they could take their phones to market.

Enticing graduates? (1)

lawrencebillson (1136239) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521799)

Hey - want a RIM job?
I grant it's got a certain ring to it, but probably not worth shifting country.

Re:Boggles mind to think about how they squandered (1)

aclarke (307017) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521833)

Huh? A quick search of the RIM jobs site lists openings in TX, CA, FL, GA, IL, WA, SC, NC, and CT. And that was just until I got sick of listing states. The real point though is that the University of Waterloo has one of the most highly regarded Computer Science programs in the world. At one point, the Math & Computer Science facility was also the largest in the world. I don't know if it still is. International corporations are the ones coming to Waterloo to recruit grads.

UW of course isn't the only game in town (OK, province). Queens, U of T and lots of other schools have great computer science or engineering programs. RIM is easily geographically positioned enough to take advantage of international talent, and they're placed adjacent to arguably the best university in the country. I don't think RIM's problem right now is access to talent. It's more likely to be convincing qualified individuals for those few jobs that are actually open, that they should consider RIM as an employer. For example, a few months ago I was looking for a different job. I got a couple calls from Yahoo for a "Distinguished Architect" position. I ended up saying no and taking a different job with a much less fancy title, with a much smaller company. Working for Yahoo would have meant moving, and I wasn't sure I'd be employed three months later once Yahoo went through its next "re-org".

Re:Boggles mind to think about how they squandered (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521841)

Like most Canadians the story concerns me because what does it say about the country?

It says Canada has an environment that allows world class innovation (rise of RIM), and there is no magic solution for world class corporate hubris (stagnation and marginalization of RIM).

ITSS (4, Insightful)

Alomex (148003) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521195)

ITSS: It's the software stupid.

Blackberry got to where it was on the strength of its hardware. Problem is the iPhone changed the game and now the software is as important as the hardware.

The blackberry web browser was inferior until rather recently. Developing apps for a BB was a mess compared to the iPhone, the playbook couldn't even read emails until the latest update.

RIM can easily survive: Apple was in worse shape for far longer than RIM and still made a come back. However they need their own Steve Jobs who can refocus the company and develop a product that is a unique proposition, just like Apple developed, in rapid sequence the iMac, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad.

Re:ITSS (0)

timeOday (582209) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521819)

Wow, all they need to do is match the most dramatic comeback in corporate history, ever? You should write a book. I would have been a great athlete if I'd known all I need to do is whatever Michael Jordan or Wayne Gretzky did.

The cellphone industry is consolidating. The vast majority of competitors WILL die. It amazes me that we can sit here and speculate how easy it ought to be to sit atop the cellphone industry for a few decades.

So long, Motorola, and thanks for the fish! (0)

Polizei (1782856) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521221)

It was clear that RIM doesn't go well after Halliburton ditched BlackBerries for iOS [slashdot.org] .
From my point of view, I won't miss them at all.

I love my Blackberry (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39521229)

I have to say that this device is my favourite phone. I much prefer it to the iphone and android. I got fat fingers when using the iphone it took me 10 minutes to reply to an email. And for bothe iphone and blackberry I had to actually open email etc to see if I had any.

Re:I love my Blackberry (2)

DrgnDancer (137700) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521435)

iPhone has had push e-mail notification since the first major software update. Unless you bought one within a few months of release and never updated it, you should have had that. I don't actually have a Blackberry, but my wife's tells her when she has e-mail. As to the virtual keyboard issue, I can see that. I've never had a problem (I swear my wife can type faster on the virtual keyboard on her iPhone than a real keyboard (yes, my wife has both, work provides the Blackberry)), but I recall seeing a article a few years ago about sumo wrestlers in Japan needing custom cell phones because even the hardware keyboards are too small for their fingers.

Also: Woot, nested parentheses in a post. Can I get an achievement for that?

Long time coming (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39521241)

Who wants a RIM job anyway?

Re:Long time coming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39521481)

You asking? Coz I wouldn't mine one!

Kudos and good job to the executive team (2)

alen (225700) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521249)

you're finally getting a well deserved vacation for all the hard work you put in the last 15 years

good day (-1, Offtopic)

kingrayparts (2607139) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521259)

good day www.kingraymachine.com

RIM firing everyone ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39521285)

Wow, I am still getting calls from recruiters in Toronto offering "incredible opportunities" at RIM . We live in a strange world.

Re:RIM firing everyone ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39521513)

What, you don't want a RIM job?

We live in a strange world.

Indeed.

And then there were two. (2)

kurt555gs (309278) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521313)

Maemo is toast, Symbian poofed. Not RIM is going. Wall St and cell carriers did this.

It's like the ocean now only has two species of coral. Android and iOS make up the entire eco-system.

What fun is that?

 

slashdot behind the times (5, Insightful)

Jmc23 (2353706) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521339)

I remember when slashdot used to cover tech stories before news outlets and definitely before I saw it on the evening news. Now slashdot is covering stuff after it's aired on the evening news, sometimes with a delay of days, and covering it badly with sensationalist titles I'd expect from Fox! It's been dying slowly, discussions becoming more Us and Them and science fanboi yelling with little thought out argument or logic. The tide has turned and in the future this year will probably be seen as when the demise of Slashdot occured. :(

Re:slashdot behind the times (1)

Ash-Fox (726320) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521463)

I remember when slashdot used to cover tech stories before news outlets and definitely before I saw it on the evening news.

I remember when Slashdot used to cover stories years after they happened, post duplicates and had some of the worst summaries known to man. I don't know where you get this from.

Re:slashdot behind the times (1)

Jmc23 (2353706) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521625)

Oh, I take that as a constant. But besides that it used to cover things you would never hear of in the mainstream news, let alone right after it airs on the news. With the amount of slashvertisements now, the repeats of mundane news stories you can hear on the actual news, and the lack of quality dialogue there really isn't any compelling reason to come to slashdot anymore.

Despite my UID, I've been here since the beginning. I remember the days when I would almost get excited about what possible things would pop up on slashdot, now I just get frustrated at the garbage that comes up and the mainly low brow commentary of mainly 'I don't believe what you believe, I believe this'.

They didn't get it (1)

X10 (186866) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521375)

While Google provided tons of resources to Android developer, and Apple doing more or less the same for their developers, RIM kept the good stuff for themselves, and developers had to struggle to build Blackberry apps. You go go Google IO in 2010, you pay $300 and get two free devices. You go to a Blackberry conference in the same year at the same location, you pay $2000 and you get no device. So why am I not surprised that there's so few apps for blackberry, and RIM is struggling?

Re:They didn't get it (1)

Ash-Fox (726320) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521439)

You go go Google IO in 2010, you pay $300 and get two free devices. You go to a Blackberry conference in the same year at the same location, you pay $2000 and you get no device. So why am I not surprised that there's so few apps for blackberry, and RIM is struggling?

Those conferences were not the defining moment of success.

But guys (0)

LoudNoiseElitist (1016584) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521429)

But guys, who is going to make our tools (not toys) now?

Oh, that's right. Everyone else is making tools that are also toys. My bad.

It's funny... (1)

gabereiser (1662967) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521567)

...that 8 years ago RIM was the de-facto smart phone maker making blackberries and such, qwerty little things that had a web browser, texting, enterprise email and the like... They haven't changed their OS much in the last 10 years and still make qwerty little things (they tried a few touch screens without much success). They were still considered king in the enterprise until a few years ago. Now iOS is king with Android in a close 2nd. I'm actually a little surprised they lasted this long. Their "playbook" tablet was one of the worst selling tablets in history by a large corporation and promised to run Android apps on launch, it wasn't until a year later that it supported them. So while its sad that RIM, inventors of the smart phone, are going out of business I can't really say I didn't see this one coming.

Let's raise a glass (1)

gelfling (6534) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521623)

To the cadre of senior execs who ran their company into the ground, walked away from the smoking hole with millions and millions of dollars leaving the workforce 'free to pursue other options!"

They panicked. (3, Interesting)

concealment (2447304) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521771)

This reminds me of Yahoo: they're listening too much to the pundits, looking too much at trends, and not doing what is known to succeed, which is figuring out what you do right that people like to buy and getting better at it.

I am sorry to see this happen to RIM, but their competition did just up the ante with Android. I still like a lot of the Blackberry features better and often feel their hardware and software is better engineered, but a generation or so behind. Sometimes that's the price you pay for stability but sometimes it's a liability.

Paupers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39521813)

All with golden parachutes, I'm sure. Rats leaving the sinking ship, and taking as much cheese with them as they can haul.

persue other interests (1)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | more than 2 years ago | (#39521823)

like getting off the ship before it totally sinks. I wonder how much cash these big wigs are taking with them.

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